Posted By Sandra Alland

Tonight in Toronto is the launch of Crisis Book: An Anthology Thing (press press press). Get directions and info on this awesome new book here. Y Josephine and I both have new poetry in Crisis Book, and Zorras will be present for the launch via video. Also featuring bill bissett and many others you will dig. If you're in the UK we can get a copy to you without pricey international shipping costs. Just email us (

Zorras are playing with Manchester's Ste McCabe and Atlanta's Stella Zine on Saturday at 7:30pm at Edinburgh's A.C.E. Entry by donation, BYOB, accessible. And spooky! Come by before running off to your Hallowe'en parties...

In other news, Toronto elected an asshole for mayor again; this one is called Rob Ford. I read a fascinating blog post by Hans Rollman on Facebook, about how the biggest problems with Toronto's voting system are racism and the resulting disenfranchisment of residents. A large portion of Toronto's residents cannot vote because they're not citizens. Here's a great quote:

"But wouldn’t it be ridiculous to just give non-citizens the vote? Well actually no. Until World War II, half the US states extended voting rights to non-citizen residents; it was the combined effects of the Civil War and then the Cold War that fueled the wave of anti-immigrant hysteria which led to more restrictive voting laws in that country. Today, however, more and more countries are realizing how outdated and backward it is not to allow all residents an equal vote. Belgium, Austria, Finland, Denmark, Ireland, and dozens of other countries have opened up municipal elections to non-citizen residents. A growing number of other countries – including Chile, Portugal, Sweden, Uruguay and New Zealand – allow non-citizen residents to vote in national and regional elections too. If Toronto is indeed the world’s most multicultural city, it’s time for it to stop being at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to public policy and basic rights for its multicultural population."

As Emma Goldman used to say, "If voting changed anything they'd make it illegal."

Posted By Sandra Alland
More on The Jewish Museum: it's designed by the amazing architect Daniel Libeskind, and just moving through the building is an experience. It's more like sculpture than architecture, or more like what architecture strives to be but often isn't. I was especially affected by The Holocaust Tower, which is a dark and cold concrete room with only a sliver of light from a crack in the roof. As your eyes adjust to the lack of light, you see faint impressions of writing on the walls, and just out of reach -- a ladder.


Intriguing art pieces dot the museum. I was especially drawn by a bizarre sound project that involves walking back and forth in front of a dark wall in order to pick up bits of information playing on radio frequencies. I also dug the pomegranate tree, which features a realistic tree sculpture, with miniature video screens showing pomegranates waving in a breeze, and also paper pomegranates written on by visitors. You can walk up a ramp that leads through the branches to the top of the tree.

Speaking of walking -- some of the museum wasn't so accessible, argh.

I also caught the Frida Kahlo Retrospective (on 'til 9 August) at Martin-Gropius-Bau. It's the largest gathering of her work in history and well worth seeing, despite the crowds and the cranky staff who make you wear your coat even though it's boiling and carry your backpack in your hand even though you have fibromyalgia. I was a bit disappointed that there was a large overlap with the works from the recent surrealist women's show in Manchester, and that there were none of Frida's larger works, but you can't have everything! One really nice touch was that a whole room was dedicated to portraits of Frida. I took naughty, illegal photos; they aren't that good because they were shot on the sly, but still.

More soon!

Posted By Sandra Alland

A wee trip to the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art has revealed that they still have not replaced the light bulbs for my show (A Spot of b)other: LGBTI Deaf and Disabled Cutures), after promising to do so over two months ago. Almost half of the lights have been burned out for the duration of the exhibit, which is supposed to be accessible to people with disabilities. Never mind that a group of blind and partially sighted people are formally visiting the exhibition this week...

In other GoMA disasters, it has just come to my attention that they placed my audio tour of the show online months ago without seeking permission from me or my collaborators, thus globally outing participants in terms of sexual orientation, gender identity, disabilities and mental health status. After several complaints they have now removed the download, but it has been up for months without our knowledge and may have caused irreparable damage. Just the latest in a long line of ineptitude and disrespect from Culture and Sport Glasgow.

b)other placed a formal complaint regarding discrimination on 30 November that still has not been responded to. Amazing.

Posted By Sandra Alland

"This eye-opening exhibition explores complex identities and histories of LGBTI deaf and disabled Scots. Artist Sandra Alland, in collaboration with like-minded artists, expresses true dedication to equality and human rights through the effective use of portraits, poems and film." - Diva Magazine

A Spot of b)other continues at GoMA until 21 February.

Posted By Sandra Alland

Happy new year!

My dear friend M recently told me that visual artist and actor ed fielding passed away. This is the last I saw of ed; he was briefly a co-parent of my also dearly departed hedgehog, Looloolooloo, when I moved to Scotland. Perhaps they are hanging together in the afterlife...

ed and lulu

I remember dancing with ed at Theatre Passe Muraille, and he was weird and wonderful to work with in a play I co-wrote and took to the New York Fringe in 2002. I dug up a few old reviews of the show, because of course ed always got a mention! Here's a spot-on summary of him: "Another highlight is a surreal moment captured by the enigmatic, Fellini-like persona of ed fielding (spelled in lower case). He plays the Waiter who lip synchs to a pre-recorded message on a hand-size tape player the synopsis of the story we are about to see. His long, wiry body; his deep, luring, monotone voice; and his frizzled eyebrows sprouting from his narrow head add a sense of intrigue and wonderment to his speech." ( More reviews here.

Rest in peace, ed. For those of you on Facebook, you can visit a page for ed here.

In other losses, Edinburgh lost one of its last indie DVD rental shops, quietly and suddenly, just before the holidays. It seems the amazing Euro Films has closed its doors. Obtaining foreign and independent films just got even more difficult...


Posted By Sandra Alland

Thanks to all our friends who came out to the most excellent Christmas party at the ceaselessly amazing Elvis Shakespeare Music and Books. If you're shopping, please shop there! They are a rare last bastion of community-oriented shops. And they have good stuff.

Zorras had a blast and enjoyed all the other bands who managed to cram themselves into that tiny corner among too many records, books, beer bottles and people. We especially dug the Fnords. Pure surf-punk joy.

In other news, please read the following review of Angels of Anarchy (see previous post on this amazing show at Manchester Art Gallery) by London's fantastic Sopher Mayer. I can't tell you enough times to go see this show if you get the chance.


Posted By Sandra Alland

Wow. Just got back from a much-needed break in Manchester. Unfortunately I couldn't walk as much as I would've liked to (because of post-stressful-employment pain), but wow. Angels of Anarchy: Women Artists and Surrealism is perhaps the best show I have ever seen. Dr Patricia Allmer curated this exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery, and has put together an incredible historical collection, as well as mind-blowing art by amazing international artists. There's Frida Kahlo, Kay Sage, Dora Maar, Claude Cahun, Eileen Agar, Lee Miller, Leonora Carrington, Meret Oppenheim & Dorothea Tanning, just for starters. Honestly, it was stunning stunning stunning to see these artists collected so extensively in one place. There are paintings, photographs, films, collages, exquisite corpses, sculptures & books. You really get a sense of what was going on in surrealist art, of how important these women were to that movement, and to art and feminist thought in general.

It was also wonderful to see the work of highly talented artists who have been even more under-exhibited than those mentioned above -- mainly from Argentina, Mexico, India and former Czechoslovakia. Lola Alvarez Bravo, Leonor Fini, Remedios Varo, Ithell Colquhoun, Emila Medkova and Eva Swankmajerova, to name a few. The show gave me a sense of lineage that I've never felt before... this is work by, and often for, women -- and work of such high calibre that relegating it to a separate category (or footnote in the margins of history) is ridiculous. There's also work that explores gender identity in a less binary way (as surrealism itself explored the world beyond binaries), allowing a transgender narrative to enter into art history... if only quietly in the work of Cahun. Yay for Patricia Allmer! Continues to 10 January, do not miss it!

The experience was bittersweet, though, for as you travel throughout the remainder of the gallery everything remains as male as always. The gallery shop has only one small and temporary section of women's and feminist books; the rest of the shop continues to promote male artists through books, posters and calendars. There was one calendar of Tamara de Lempicka, though...

In other art news, Manchester Art Gallery's show of Francisco Goya's etchings The Fantasies, The Disasters of War and The Follies is also stunning, as is the accompanying installation, The Disasters of War, by the Chapman Brothers. As always, the Chapman Brothers' gruesome detail of the horrors of war and occupation left me feeling sad, sick and slightly faint. Goya's work didn't help much... but what more fitting way is there to feel when faced with the atrocities of war. Sadly, despite Goya's fame, these works were not shown or published in his lifetime because of their controversial or disturbing subject matter. Luckily Manchester Art Gallery respects its audience enough to show these still-disturbing and extremely violent works, and without any condescending warnings. This is even more impressive when you consider MAG is known as one of the most child-friendly galleries in the UK... but perhaps it's only Scotland that is so paternalistic with its art-goers as to limit or label what they see?

In accessibility notes, MAG is great... there are audio guides for the shows and large-print versions of text available, plus you can book BSL tours upon request. You can even borrow a wheelchair if you need to! Some of the works could have been hung lower for people using chairs to view, but overall they score four stars for accessibility.

Okay, back to bed with me.

Posted By Sandra Alland

Here's a link to the Times article on Turner-prize winner Douglas Gordon's recent vow to "never accept a public commission in Scotland again."

I thought it fit in well with yesterday's post... governmental paternalism seems to be quite the problem in Scotland these days.


Posted By Sandra Alland

Thanks to all the swell folks who came to the opening of A Spot of b)other (see previous entry for more info). It was a nice celebration despite the weather, and despite the fact that most of the lights are burned out in the gallery, the staff was rather cold, and our zine and display were labelled "explicit" at the last moment without consultation. No one would answer my questions about it at the time, but apparently this is because it has the word "fuck". I think "strong language" would have sufficed, and being told about it would have shown some basic respect... (not to mention I've seen the word fuck in GoMA before, and without a warning).

This kind of thing doesn't help much to eliminate the stereotype that all queer, trans and disabled work is pornographic (or to eliminate rumours of GoMA's insensitivity). When people hear the word "explicit", they think of sex. And this zine is sadly lacking in sex, quite frankly. As well as the label being culturally insensitive, people will be so darn confused! We will just have to make the next issue the porn issue.

Ah, well, onwards and upwards. I'm quite pleased with the show itself (the bother collective is stellar), and you can catch it for free until 21 February (if all the lights don't burn out before then...)


Posted By Sandra Alland


Sandra Alland Open Studio, with members of the b)other collective
Thursday 5 November
Trongate 103 Visting Artist Studio
(located at 103 Trongate, Glasgow)
3-5pm and 6-9pm

(see previous post for more info)

In other news, Matthew Jebb has started a new radio show on Edinburgh's Fresh Air. Listen at 11pm here. Zorras song-poem thingamobobbies will be played!




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